|Liability vs. Damages|
|In a civil court action, financial compensation is the means of exchange
for righting a wrong. "Liability" is determining responsibility for a wrongful
act. Broadly speaking, it is the civil equivalent of being
convicted. This in itself does not necessarily determine the level of
punishment, or "Damages." Punishment is made in the form of
assigning financial compensation to the aggrieved party. In the American Judicial system,
parties are frequently asked to provide "Expert
Witnesses" to validate the level of financial Damages. This is
particularly true in suits involving destruction of health.
It is entirely possible that while "guilt" is determined, no Cause of Action is proven for these Damages. Attorneys for both sides are expected to produce "Expert Witnesses" to establish or attempt to destroy the link between the act (no matter how horrible or malicious) and the level of compensation.
IN PRAISE OF THE PERSONAL PHYSICIAN
In the case of the aggrieved party, their personal physician might be the most "Expert" medical witness of all. This is particularly true if they have an ardent interest in the subject.
Because of long term care giving, they are intimately familiar with their patient's condition, both emotionally and medically. The personal physician tends to be more empathic to subtle nuances that would be easily overlooked by the superficial detachment of the alleged "professional" medical witness. The personal physician develops a level of interest for a patient whose condition they know very well through personal, long term observation.
THE PhD RESEARCHER
Contrary to popular opinion, it is the PhD rather than the MD that produces the bulk of medical research. Given their background, the "pure researcher" is not highly paid by standards of the medical profession. Many of them have a keen interest in their specialty that drives them to clarify issues and develop remedies. While some have been corrupted by huge sums paid to professional "Expert" witnesses, most labor with a sense of dedication to their field.
THE "PROFESSIONAL" MEDICAL WITNESS
To offset this, a well funded opposition will secure what is termed "Expert" medical witnesses. To impress the jury, they substitute alleged professional credentials for long term and in depth knowledge of the patient and their condition. In addition, it is not unusual for the government to use government employees to testify. Needless to say, these medical "professionals" have a vested interest in protecting their positions and backing their employer.
Expert Witnesses are frequently bought, not found. In the case of providing medical experts, the cost of getting a physician to testify can cost tens of thousands of dollars. When a wronged American citizen files suit against a Federal agency, the citizen is at a grave disadvantage unless they are very wealthy.
A Federal Agency such as the US Department of Justice has an infinite amount of taxpayer money to spend and diminish the aggrieved party's compensation . They have the ability to BUY any number of witnesses at any expense to testify on their behalf without any level of accountability.
This is not like filing suit against a corporation. In a corporate suit, the cost of providing Expert Witnesses is weighed against the cost of paying Damages. In a suit against the government, little thought is given to cost benefit. The money isn't coming out of the government's pocket. It's being grabbed from the hard earned income of the taxpayer. On the other hand, the aggrieved citizen's response is limited by their personal budget.
While many doctors are sincere practitioners of their healing art, being offered $10,000 or significantly more of taxpayer dollars for a few hours of testimony can be very tempting. Many of these witnesses can and do earn a large portion of their annual income serving as witnesses. With experience, they become very skilled at providing convincing testimony.
In this way, the Government agency hopes to crush the aggrieved party. This ploy forces the wronged American into accepting either an unfair out of court settlement (with their story forever hidden from the public), or being driven into bankruptcy and dropping the case all together.
Rule 26 of the General Rules Governing Discovery, provides some indirect method for discrediting specific Expert Testimony. Rule 26,  Disclosure of Expert Testimony states in part [2B] that "... the compensation to be paid for the study and testimony and a listing of any other cases in which the witness has testified as an expert at trial or by deposition within the preceding four years ..." must be stated in the "Expert's" report. It can reveal less-than-sincere motivating factors for the direction of their testimony.
Many people labor under the delusion that their government is out to do "the right thing" for an aggrieved citizen. In its most optimistic scenario this only exists in a civil suit that doesn't involve the government as defendant. When a Federal agency like the US Department of Justice becomes the defendant, they will steadfastly refuse to admit that they did anything wrong. They will protect the individuals responsible and squander an infinite amount of taxpayer funds to undermine the abused citizen's case.
Written and Copyright © by: LTC Michael G. Leventhal
Copyright 2000 Reproduction with written permission. Contact: Michael @Justice-Denied.net